Stories from the classroom: March Edition


The Spring semester has started, and I’m in charge of teaching Oral English to the freshman this time around. Bobby had them last semester, and I’m kind of annoyed that he gave them a list of names to choose from, without telling them not to all pick the same name! so, I now have THREE Sarahs in one class, two Alans (though interestingly, one is a boy and the other a girl), and a Jack. There is always a Jack in every class, every semester, everywhere in China. Thanks, Titanic

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Lost and Found: the Story of a Chinese Family

The first weekend I arrived in Lanzhou back in September, I found myself seated at a  lavish dinner downtown with 10 other people. The guests consisted of the following:

  • A particularly chatty 4 year old, Luna
  • A babbling, teething 8 month old, Ali
  • A couple around 30 years of age
  • Two couples in their late 50s
  • Another couple in their early 80s

I had never met any of them before in my life, but I knew one of the woman was my half aunt, and I was somehow related to everyone else; they were my long lost relatives living in mainland China! I had heard whispers about their existence for many years, but never imagined we would meet in person.

One of many gatherings- four generations of my extended family in one photo

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Taiwan, Switzerland of the East

After spending 7 consecutive months in mainland China, a visit to Taiwan over winter break felt like a spa for the brain, a massage for the soul.

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day market in taipei

Mainland China is kinetic and chaotic with 1.4 billion people. Provincial cities like Lanzhou are expanding rapidly, with a metro under construction, high rises half finished, and cars honking nonstop from all the detours and blocked off streets, and sidewalks spilling with people…

Taiwan in contrast, seems… oddly quiet and peaceful. Taipei is orderly- there is none of that pushing or shoving that I’ve been subjected to on a regular basis in China while getting on the public bus or ordering a bowl of noodles (I’ve now ruthlessly mastered the pushing and shoving as well; integration!). Continue reading

Harbin “Romance in Winter Days”

*trigger warning* this post contains stories about large, striped animals eating smaller, feathered animals; the latter were sent to their untimely deaths by well-intentioned tourists.

After Beijing I returned to Lanzhou for a week to celebrate the Lunar New Year, then headed back northeast to Harbin in Heilongjiang Province– one of the coldest regions of China. Why would a PCV take a vacation in 0°F temperatures when the rest of his cohort enjoys the beaches of Thailand for a few weeks of sunbathing?

See for Yourself:

a masterpiece of snow sculpting

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